Ryan Howard's path back to the majors just got much steeper.
Playing in the Braves' farm system on a minor-league contract, Howard was released on Monday night.
In 11 games with Triple A Gwinnett, the 37-year-old Howard, who signed on April 6, hit .184 (7 for 38) with one home run, five RBIs, 11 strikeouts and two walks.
"There's more in the tank," Howard said last week. "If you walk away, don't walk away with something still left in the tank. Then you're wondering like, 'Man, what could I have done?' When I'm done playing, I want to leave it all out on the field."
Howard, of course, did that in a storied career with the Phillies. In parts of 13 seasons with the organization, Howard hit 382 homers, collected 1,194 RBIs, won 2005 Rookie of the Year, 2006 MVP and a World Series in 2008, as well as five straight NL East crowns (2007-11).
His final year in red pinstripes came last season in which he hit .196 with 25 home runs and 59 RBIs. It concluded with an emotional sendoff at Citizens Bank Park during the team's season finale.
"The Phillies, I want to thank you guys for taking a kid in the fifth round out of, well now it's Missouri State, but Southwest Missouri State University and giving me the opportunity," Howard said last Oct. 2 as he greeted the crowd. "This city as a whole, man. I want to thank you because I've grown with all of you. My family has grown with all of you.
"Thank you again from the bottom of my heart."